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Pence defies Trump, releases statement saying he can't reject electoral votes

Mike Pence
Posted at 1:15 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 13:20:11-05

Defying President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence says he doesn't have the power to discard electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next president on Jan. 20.

Pence released a statement moments before a joint session of Congress that he will not try to block electors for President-elect Joe Biden.

"It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” his statement reads.

At nearly the same time, President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters in Washington, D.C. and said he would be “disappointed” in Pence if he did not return the electoral college votes back to the states for a “revote.”

“Mike Pence will have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, it will be a sad day for our country,” Trump told the crowd.

Trump has been falsely claiming Pence has powers to refuse the electoral college votes. Trump claims Pence can decertify the election results, then send them back to the states or send them to the House for its members to decide the winner. In fact, neither the Constitution nor congressional statute grants the vice president any such powers.

The vice president has a relatively ceremonial role in counting the Electoral College votes, as spelled out by the US Constitution. Members of Congress, however, have the opportunity to formally issue a challenge to each state's slate of electors. While a group of GOP senators and representatives are expected to challenge the results in key swing states, they will not have nearly enough votes to override the election.